Incident 176: Starship’s Autonomous Food Delivery Robot Allegedly Stranded at Railroad Crossing in Oregon, Run over by Freight Train

Description: A Starship food delivery robot deployed by Oregon State University reportedly failed to cross the railroad, becoming stranded, and ending up being struck by an oncoming freight train.
Alleged: Starship Technologies developed an AI system deployed by Oregon State University, which harmed Oregon State University and freight train crew.

Suggested citation format

McGregor, Sean. (2022-03-02) Incident Number 176. in McGregor, S. (ed.) Artificial Intelligence Incident Database. Responsible AI Collaborative.

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Sean McGregor, Khoa Lam


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Starting to slip into the Friday afternoon doldrums? Here's one from the let's-see-what's-on-social-media-today file: an autonomous food delivery robot putting up a noble defense against a freight locomotive after apparently becoming stranded in a railroad crossing. Sure, the tiny scrapper ultimately loses, but it was certainly a plucky little thing.

This video in the tweet appears to have been originally shared by a member of a subreddit that is evidently maintained by either enthusiastic train fans or actual disgruntled locomotives, but little explanation accompanied it, so we're left to speculate behind the very obvious, which is that this little food delivery 'bot ended up becoming dinner for a much larger piece of machinery. That's not to say it gave up completely without a fight. You can see the locomotive jolt upward ever so slightly before the pod's structure completely gives way. Ah, nature. So violent, but so beautiful.

Anyway, the comments indicate that this was likely a Starship delivery robot (just like this one) operating on the grounds of Oregon State University. Apparently the little robots frequently struggle with the railroad crossing, which may explain why this particular incident wasn't noteworthy enough to make even the local news. Sure enough, ye olde Google tells us that this isn't the first time it has happened. Besides that, autonomous tech struggling with railroad crossings is nothing new. If Tesla's struggles with at-grade crossings aren't enough to move the needle, maybe the needless death of baby delivery robots will stir our nation enough to come together in the name of infrastructure improvements.

Autonomous food delivery pod meets fiery end under train

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